Middle East

Shimon Peres: Ex-Israeli president 'showing improvement' after stroke

File photo of Shimon Peres (2 November 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption Shimon Peres' son-in-law said there appeared to be no imminent threat to his life anymore

Doctors treating Israel's former President Shimon Peres after he suffered a stroke say his condition has improved slightly but remains critical.

The 93 year old was sedated and placed on a respirator on Tuesday after being taken to the Sheba Medical Centre.

On Wednesday, hospital director Yitzhak Kreiss said he was still in intensive care, but was stable and conscious.

Doctors were seeking to reduce Mr Peres' sedation to evaluate him, he added, calling it "a good sign".

Earlier, the Novel Peace Prize laureate's son-in-law and personal physician, Rafi Walden, said there appeared to be no imminent threat to his life anymore.

'Responsive'

At a briefing for reporters outside the hospital near Tel Aviv, Prof Kreiss said Mr Peres was "in a pretty tough condition".

"But he is stable and we see some improvement. He is conscious, he's awake."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Peres is one of Israel's most popular figures and his condition is being closely followed

"We are trying to reduce some of the sedation in order to evaluate him, and that's a good sign. We will keep on evaluating him continuously in the neurosurgery intensive care unit. "

Prof Kreiss hoped to see further improvement over the next 24 hours.

Prof Walden meanwhile revealed that after his sedation was lowered, Mr Peres had indicated that he understood what was being said to him, had been responsive and squeezed his hand.

"We will continue to sedate him in order to ease his breathing and prevent him from getting upset about the things that are happening around him, which may raise his blood pressure - not because it is required neurologically," he said.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Yitzhak Kreiss and Rafi Walden briefed reporters at the Sheba Medical Centre

"The very mild anaesthesia allows him to rest completely and provides optimal conditions for his brain to recover."

Mr Peres was taken to the Sheba Medical Centre, outside Tel Aviv, on Tuesday for examination when he complained that he had a headache after giving a speech.

While in hospital, he suffered a massive stroke in the right side of the brain.

Prof Walden said it was too early to say whether Mr Peres had suffered any irreparable brain damage.

'Shimon, we love you'

As one of Israel's most popular figures, his condition is being closely followed by the media and the public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: "Shimon, we love you and the entire nation is wishing for your recovery,"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Peres (centre) shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize

Mr Peres has held almost every major political office since Israel was founded in 1948, and was the architect of Israel's secret nuclear programme.

He twice served as prime minister and was president from 2007 to 2014.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier, a prize he shared with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was later assassinated, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Despite his age, Mr Peres has maintained an active public schedule, mostly through his non-governmental Peres Centre for Peace, which promotes closer ties between Israel and the Palestinians.

In January, Mr Peres underwent minor surgery after suffering a small heart attack.

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